Tips on how to be a Aunt

*the picture attached is of my nieces and nephew this past summer at Disney*

(If your heart just longs for the actual tips, skip to the end.)

(If you skip to the end some of the tips are going to be really confusing.)

So I’ll start off by saying that I am the Aunt of two nieces and one nephew. They think I am pretty strange. Well my nieces do anyway but that’s only because their dad tells them that I’m weird (Dustin if you ever happen upon this blog, bro wtf? Why are you telling your kids about all the weird shit I did when I was their age?) .

My nephew is at the age where I’m still cool but he is also about to be a teenager so I am expecting some sort of distance to happen. So when my nephew was born I was 6, about to turn 7. He liked me right away, I could even get him to stop crying sometimes (when I didn’t make him start crying)-(unrelated, I did not make him cry that often). He was cute and chunky, all the things a baby is. I never had to change his diaper because I was young (all the actual aunt stuff: bathing, feeding, making them go to sleep, babysquating and shit, doesn’t happen until I’m like 11 when my first niece was born but I’ll get to that part in a minute).

Basically I grew up with him, and because I’m only 19 he doesn’t call me Aunt Sadie, which bugs the hell out of me. He will call me that around his friends or when he wants something – I have this kid figured out.

Anyway, so here I was at 6 years old and I was able to brag that I had a nephew. I didn’t know anything about babies except that I wasn’t the baby anymore. My dad was so proud that he had a grandson! (Another side note, he didn’t have any sons so he was super happy. Me? I was the replacement son? He did all the things a dad would do with her son with me. Hunting, fishing, teaching me how to build random things. Anyway he needed a son and what did he get? A nerd grandson!) So my nephew decided that he liked superheroes, which was awesome because we finally had something in common.

(I’m kidding)

((No I’m not))

We celebrated his birthday this past year with an epic Star Wars sleep-over? It was awkward for me to be in the same house with 4 pre-teen boys who are going through puberty. It probably would have been awkward even if that was not the case. Any-who all of the food was Star Wars themed. We had ewok pigs in a blanket, Han Solo frozen in carbonite (grape jell-o). This party was epic, and very special to my oldest sister Sandy. She told me, “this is probably the last time we will throw him an actual party you know?”. I thought she was right, and she invited his dad and step-family so I could not let her head them off alone. I try to be a supportive little sister when I can.

Nephews are easy, okay? Nieces are a different story.

My middle sister Sonya had her first child, Mary Margret, when I was 11. We call her Margo for short. I was in the 6th grade and I was an aunt of 2 kiddos. I learned from a young age that when you hold newborns and you aren’t over 15, you have to be sitting down and prepared with a pillow on your side.

Newborn babies (very tiny) are sort of terrifying to me. I think it is the fact that they are so small and helpless that is scary. If you do not think newborns are frightening you must be a mother with at least one child. So much could happen to a newborn, it is just defenseless! Newborns need a lot of attention and care, but it has to be gentle or you could hurt them. I sort of knew that (but really did not) when Margo was born. I got to hold her (twice) at the hospital and I attempted to exist around her when she came home.

I know that sounds strange but all I wanted to do when I went Sonya’s old house was relax and watch Spirited Away. Side note, for the longest time she was my only way of watching that particular Studio Ghibli movie. Anyway, I learned the basics of how to care for a baby then. The feeding, burping, changing, bathing, and entertaining her was okay. I only had to watch part of those, but I entertained and helped feed her I believe. I also learned that only mothers should move a sleeping baby, especially when you are a teenager because you will NOT know how to correctly hold the child and they will wake up immediately. This is very bad if your sister sent the last hour lulling them to sleep….

That is just very bad for everyone, 10/10 would not recommend. If a baby is sleeping in your bed just sleep on the floor or in the chair honestly. I do not think that I can move a baby without waking him or her up. It is a skill to acquire.

When I was a Junior in high school Sonya had another daughter named Eloise. I did not go to the birth (I guess that is the correct way to phrase that) because I thought I  was so busy with school. If I would have known how busy I would be in college I would have abandoned ship right then. But that is another topic. Eloise did not meet me until Thanksgiving… Thanksgiving or Christmas, one of the two, and I can remember thinking, “babies are awesome”, even when she was crying.

Today I am a very proud aunt. My nephew is so intelligent, and he is a little legend himself. He plays the baritone and the cello, and he is in a jazz band.

Do you know what I was doing when I was twelve?

I think I was still freaking out about the Twilight Series. What an embarrassing phase honestly. I do not regret reading the books but I was too enthusiastic about the Twilight universe. Also I re-read the books recently and I felt hurt and betrayed by Edward all over again. Not only did he break up with the girl, he moved his whole family out of the United States so they could not socialize with her either.

Edward was the epitome of an ass-hat, and then Jacob had to go and turn into a werewolf. He was an ass-hat too after that. Now I am no longer Team Edward or Team Jacob. I am neutral.

“I am Switzerland” – A quote from Bella Swan that I can finally relate to.

I was not really active in Junior High. My hobbies were reading and dotting around the little theater in my town – it was practically my home.

I will get back on topic now, my point is that I was not doing much when I was twelve.

But my nephew is brilliant, his knowledge on the superhero multiverse is matched by no other. He is also finally getting into some horror shows/film so I can watch that genre around him. I am very excited about that. I can also go to him with any Star Wars question or theory (or meme).

My nieces are pretty cool too. Margo? She is going to grow up to be a philanthropist. For her 7th birthday (I think this was when she turned 7) she wanted to paint piggy banks, and she asked all of her friends to bring money to donate to a charity.

Now Sonya was skeptical that she would change her mind, but even when it was time to plan the party she wanted to go through with the idea of skipping the presents from her friends to donate the money to charity. So Sonya sat down with her and they decided on a children’s organization to donate money to. All in all they donated about $300, if I remember correctly.

Margo has a fantastic taste in music, which I appreciate a lot (I for one, take music very seriously). Just to give you an example, some of her favorite songs are Atticus in the Desert by Kishi Bashi, Iron by Woodkid, and anything by Mogwai. Her taste in music is untouched.

Also imaginary points to you if you know who any of those artists are.

Margo took gymnastics for a couple of years, but now that she is 8 years old she is going to focus on dance (I do not know if she wanted to be a gymnast or not, she could have if she wanted to). I love going to gymnastics practice with Margo and Eloise. You have to walk through the practice with Eloise, but Margo just practices with her team. She was always excited to go on the beam or uneven bars. Whenever she finished a move she would turn and look at me to make sure I was watching. She was so proud! I made sure not to glance away too much, I wanted her to know that I was paying attention.

Margo is also a nut about dancing, she adores ballet. She has been taking ballet since she was 3 years old, and now she has added tap and jazz classes to her repertoire. Did I mention she is smart too? She loves reading more than any other 4th grader I have met.

Her little sister is hilarious. Eloise is 3 now and she takes gymnastics and ballet. She obviously has not started school yet but she is still learning so much. Eloise is very concerned about her sister. Probably because she would have no one to play with if Margo was not there, either way they care about each other a lot. Whenever Eloise is tired of one of her friends she claims that she does not love them anymore (she is also very dramatic).

I do not have very many stories about Eloise yet, but stay tuned. I have a feeling there will be more posts about her accomplishments too.

My nieces are total princesses, they are very girly girls at the moment. I never had little sisters and when I was young I was more focused on horror films so I did not know how to deal with all of the girly-ness, but I think  I adjusted just fine. They continue to teach me things every time I see them.

Onto actual tips, because I can talk about these kids all day.

Tips:

  1.  Keep your knowledge current about all things Star Wars and superhero related. This one is super important because you will be lost if the conversation turns toward Star Wars: Rebels and other TV series in the Marvel/DC/Star Wars realm.
  2. If you decide to stick an action figure in jell-o, be sure to weigh it down or it will just be sort of floating on top. The easiest way to do this is to grease the pan, mix the jello accordingly, press in the action figure of choice, place a small bowl on its back and leave until jell-o sets. When the jell-o is ready, gently pull the bowl out and flip the pan over onto a plate. This works great for ‘Han Solo frozen in carbonite’ themed dishes.
  3. Decide on one song to sing before bed, otherwise you will be given the task of performing a Disney melody on the spotDear lord, just agree on one musical and stick to that. If you don’t know the musical, just sing the Frozen music. That is all the rage with the kids these days.
  4. Paint very thin layers of nail polish, because “sitting still” does not happen. Yeah sitting still occurs for like 30 seconds so teach them how to blow on their nails until that thin layer is dry. Also child toenails are ridiculously small, so good luck with painting those.
  5. Don’t be a Dick. Those kids probably do not see you often so do everything you can with them. They will probably remember it and appreciate it more than you think. I am still trying to get better at this tip.
  6. Read me a bedtime story is also a myth. Okay kids do not fall asleep when you read to them. I have learned this from experience. Just read one small book and turn the lights off. No more no less, because dealing with a three year old who wants to read 6 books before bed will result in a lot less reading and a lot more playing.
  7. Be cool and listen to what they are saying. My oldest niece talks a lot. That is an understatement, she has the tendency to over explain everything she is talking about. Odds are that most people just tell them to be quiet, so listen to what they are talking about. Let them talk.
  8. Make bath time quick and painless for everyone. Most kids do not want to bathe, and when they finally do get in the tub they do not want to get out. For the quickest bath, wash their hair first using the cup method, then wash their body, rinse them off, and release the drain. Then make them stand and get out of the tub.
  9. Or you can be awesome and let them play for a while during bath time. A major tip is to learn how to blow bubbles with your hands and soap and let them catch some of the bubbles. 10/10 fun for everyone.
  10. Babysit as often as you can. If you want to be an awesome adult you have to keep them when you can and enjoy the time with them while you are babysitting. I keep my nephew for a couple of weeks during the summer, and now that I can drive we have a lot of fun.
  11. Be a ready resource for information. There will be a lot of questions so know the basic definitions for almost everything. Also know how to spell – important for when the kids are learning how to write.
  12. Be understanding and open. Sometimes kids need a person to talk to who is not their mother or father. Someone who is still considered an adult and is trust worthy.
  13. Let them know you will support them. I told my nephew once, it is okay to like boys the same way you like girls. He assured me that that was not the problem, but I just wanted to let him know of the options and that they were completely normal options.
  14. Let them know you believe that they can be whatever they set their mind to. Encouragement is so important to kids and teens. If you tell them that you believe in them, it opens up their minds to endless possibilities.

I think I have an unfair advantage for parenting. Growing up as an aunt let me see how the kids act and is really like practicing parenthood. It is so amazing watching my nieces and nephew get older; I know that one day they will be fantastic people.

 

Tell me about your nieces and nephews in the comments, and I apologize for any grammatical errors.

 – S

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